Tag Archive: Richard Linklater


College is a time of transition. It’s when people finally move out of their childhood homes and attempt to tackle the world without any adult supervision. College students are in that grey area between childhood and adulthood and this is often the time that people discover who they really are. So it makes sense that Richard Linklater’s follow-up to the ambitious and affecting Boyhood is Everybody Wants Some!!, a lighthearted look at a college baseball team on the weekend before classes begin. A spiritual successor to Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, this is another great “hanging out” movie. We don’t need plot or conflict; all we need is great characters, good conversations and a fun time.

We’re introduced to Jake (Blake Jenner) as he’s driving towards his first year of college in late summer of 1980. His car is loaded up with his belongings and he’s confidently cruising down the road while blasting The Knack’s “My Sharona”. Jake is a young pitcher who was the star of his high school baseball team. But now he’s moving onto college, where everybody on the team was the best player at their high school. He moves into a house with his fellow teammates and gets to know them on the weekend before classes begin. Along with the team’s leader Finnegan (Glen Powell) Jake and his buddies spend their days goofing around and their nights partying and picking up women. Jake develops a crush on a fellow coed named Beverly (Zoey Deutch), all the while trying to figure out his place on the team and in the world.

More than any other director, Linklater has mastered the art of the plotless movie. While most filmmakers feel the need to inject some sort of conflict in their stories, Linklater knows that this isn’t always true of real life. We don’t spend every waking minute trying to solve some sort of drama or developing a solution to an ever increasing problem. A lot of life is just spending time with other people and Linklater seems to understand that these can be the moments that have the most profound impact on us. Everybody Wants Some!! is essentially this idea boiled down to an entire weekend. We watch as Jake and his buddies play Ping-Pong, go to parties, drink beer, smoke weed and just have a good time. It’s essentially a nonstop party for the film’s two-hour runtime with enough interesting conversations that elevate it above most modern comedies.

The ensemble cast is filled of mostly unknowns, so it’s pretty surprising just how stellar everyone is. Blake Jenner is likable and reserved in a way that perfectly suits his character. He’s certainly not the most interesting person on the team, but he’s definitely the most relatable. The relationship that develops between himself and Zoey Deutch’s character is nothing short of adorable. Speaking of, Deutch is an absolute delight, managing to stand out amongst the guys and developing a character that is easy to fall in love with. Don’t be surprised when she turns into a big star. But the best character has to be Glen Powell’s Finnegan, a jock who manages to break every stereotype that’s usually associated with athletes. In a way, he becomes a father figure to Jake, helping him through the first few days of college before finally turning him loose. The cast is filled with so many characters who you would want to hangout with in real life, but none so more than Finnegan.

It’s noted by Jake that the guys on the baseball team seem to conform their personalities to whatever situation is around them. At one point the dress up in their best disco attire, the next night they’re trying to be cowboys at a honky-tonk and eventually their rocking out at a punk show. These guys are still trying to figure out who they are and they’re using these parties to find their place in the world. We go into college thinking we’re one type of person, but often come out the other side with a totally different perspective. Aside from a degree, college is about two things: self-discovery and parties. Everybody Wants Some!! effortlessly captures the feeling of both.

Everybody Wants Some!! receives 4/4

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My 2015 Oscar Predictions

Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Will Win: Boyhood

Should Win: Whiplash

Snubbed: Foxcatcher, Nightcrawler, Gone Girl

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Best Director

Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Will Win: Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Should Win: Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Snubbed: Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

Best Actor

Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper – American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Michael Keaton – Birdman

Should Win: Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Snubbed: Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Will Win: Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Should Win: Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Snubbed: Shailene Woodley – The Fault in our Stars

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall – The Judge

Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

Edward Norton – Birdman

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Will Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Should Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Snubbed: Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Laura Dern – Wild

Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game

Emma Stone – Birdman

Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Will Win: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Should Win: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Snubbed: Rene Russo – Nightcrawler

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo

Boyhood – Richard Linklater

Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Will Win: Birdman – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo

Should Win: Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Snubbed: Locke – Steven Knight

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper – Jason Hall

The Imitation Game – Graham Moore

Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson

The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten

Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Will Win: The Imitation Game – Graham Moore

Should Win: Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Snubbed: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Best Animated Film

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2 I guess, but I honestly don’t care

Snubbed: The Lego Movie, obviously

Best Foreign Language Film

Ida

Leviathan

Tangerines

Timbuktu

Wild Tales

Will Win: Ida

Should Win: Out of all the nominees, I’ve only seen Ida. So Ida, I guess.

Snubbed: The Raid 2

Best Documentary

Citizenfour

Finding Vivian Maier

Last Days in Vietnam

The Salt of the Earth

Virunga

Will Win: Citizenfour

Should Win: Virunga

Snubbed: The Overnighters

Best Score

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat

The Imitation Game – Alexandre Desplat

Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

Mr. Turner – Gary Yershon

The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Will Win: The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Should Win: Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

Snubbed: Gone Girl – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Best Original Song

“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie

“Glory” from Selma

“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

Will Win: “Glory” from Selma

Should Win: “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie

Snubbed: “I’ll get you what you Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)” from Muppets Most Wanted

Best Sound Editing

American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Birdman – Martin Hernández and Aaron Glascock

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Brent Burge and Jason Canovas

Interstellar – Richard King

Unbroken – Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

Will Win: American Sniper

Should Win: Interstellar

Snubbed: Fury

Best Sound Mixing

American Sniper – John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin

Birdman – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga

Interstellar – Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten

Unbroken – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee

Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Will Win: American Sniper

Should Win: Whiplash

Snubbed: Fury

Best Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock

The Imitation Game – Maria Djurkovic , Tatiana Macdonald

Interstellar – Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis

Into the Woods – Dennis Gassner,  Anna Pinnock

Mr. Turner – Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Snubbed: Snowpiercer

Best Cinematography

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman

Ida – Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczewski

Mr. Turner – Dick Pope

Unbroken – Roger Deakins

Will Win: Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Should Win: Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Snubbed: Enemy – Nicolas Bolduc

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher – Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier

Guardians of the Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Will Win: Foxcatcher

Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

Snubbed: Snowpiercer

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero

Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges

Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood

Maleficent – Anna B. Sheppard

Mr. Turner – Jacqueline Durran

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Snubbed: Edge of Tomorrow, as long as the exo-suits count as costumes

Best Editing

American Sniper – Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

Boyhood – Sandra Adair

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling

The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg

Whiplash – Tom Cross

Will Win: Boyhood

Should Win: Whiplash

Snubbed: Gone Girl

Best Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist

Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould

Interstellar – Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Will Win: Interstellar

Should Win: Interstellar

Snubbed: Godzilla

My Oscars 2015

The 87th Academy Awards are taking place this Sunday and it’s easily the biggest night of the year that Hollywood has to offer. Some great talent is sure to be honored, but I’m also sure that the Academy will fail to honor some of the more worthy individuals. Since I am not a member of the Academy and can’t actually choose who gets to take home the gold on Sunday, I decided to create my own awards. They may not be quite as prestigious as the Oscars, but maybe some of this year’s nominees will appreciate the praise that I’m giving them. Agree with my choices? What categories would you do differently? Let me know in the comments below!

Best Director

Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

David Fincher – Gone Girl

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

Denis Villeneuve – Enemy

Best Actor

Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

Tom Hardy – Locke

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

Scarlett Johannson – Under the Skin

Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon – Wild

Shailene Woodley – The Fault in our Stars

Best Supporting Actor

Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler

Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

Edward Norton – Birdman

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Carrie Coon – Gone Girl

Rene Russo – Nightcrawler

Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

Naomi Watts – Birdman

Best Original Screenplay

Calvary – John Michael McDonagh

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness

Locke – Steven Knight

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Best Adapted Screenplay

Enemy – Javier Gullón

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson

Under the Skin – Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer

Wild – Nick Hornby

Best Cinematography

Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki

Enemy – Nicolas Bolduc

Foxcatcher – Greig Fraser

Gone Girl – Jeff Cronenweth

Interstellar – Hoyte Van Hoytema

Best Original Score

Enemy – Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans

Godzilla – Alexandre Desplat

Gone Girl – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Best Original Song

“Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie

“Glory” from Selma

“I’ll get you what you Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)” from Muppets Most Wanted

“Split the Difference” from Boyhood

“Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

 

Best Editing

Boyhood – Sandra Adair

Gone Girl – Kirk Baxter

Interstellar – Lee Smith

The Raid 2 – Gareth Evans

Whiplash – Tom Cross

Best Production Design

Exodus: Gods and Kings – Arthur Max

Foxcatcher – Jess Gonchor

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen

Interstellar – Nathan Crowley

Snowpiercer – Ondrej Nekvasil

Best Sound

The Babadook – Frank Lipson

Edge of Tomorrow – James Boyle and Dominic Gibbs

Fury – Paul N.J. Ottosson

Godzilla – Erik Aadahl, David Alvarez and Ethan Van der Ryn

Interstellar – Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten and Richard King

Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Edge of Tomorrow

Godzilla

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

My Top Ten Films of 2014

Best of 2014

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order): 22 Jump Street, Calvary, Edge of Tomorrow, Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy, Inherent Vice, Interstellar, John Wick, The Lego Movie, The One I Love, The Raid 2, Under the Skin, X-Men Days of Future Past

  1. The Guest – Any of my honorable mentions could have made their way into my number 10 slot, but I ended up choosing Adam Wingard’s hugely satisfying thriller, The Guest. It’s a story about a naïve family who open up their home to a total stranger, only to discover that this man is not as innocent as he seems. Like Wingard’s past efforts, it’s nothing more than a genre exercise, but it’s one that feels uniquely fresh and entertaining. With great performances, slick action and an awesome soundtrack, The Guest feels like a throwback to some of the more ridiculous action films of the 80s, while also managing to mix in its own modern sensibilities.
  1. LockeLocke is 85 minutes of Tom Hardy driving a car and talking on a phone. That’s it. Writer/director Steven Knight has somehow taken a gimmicky premise and used it to provide a wholly realized portrait of man who is simply trying to make the right decisions in his life. The character of Locke is forced to deal with the complications of a concrete pour, while also recovering from the confession of his infidelity to his wife. Attempting to supervise a concrete pour over the phone may not sound exciting and when the movie first begins, it isn’t. But as we begin to learn more about who Locke is and why he’s choosing to make these decisions, every aspect of his life becomes more and more fascinating. This is really a film that gets better and better as the film progresses and it’s all because of the slow development of Locke’s character and Tom Hardy’s incredible performance. Locke is a simple story, told in a unique and daring fashion.
  1. Fury – A profile of five men operating a tank in the European Theater of WWII, Fury is thoroughly gripping from start to finish. The action sequences are intense, well-directed and manage to separate themselves from the pack of other WWII movies with their focus on tank warfare. The film is bloody, brutal and none of the characters ever feel safe from the onslaught of enemy fire. A sequence that pits four American tanks against a superior German tank is shocking and exciting, as is the climactic standoff where our squad must battle an entire battalion of SS Nazi soldiers. But the action is worthless if you don’t care about the characters, so director David Ayer makes sure that each tank member has a distinctive personality. A highlight of the film is an extended sequence where Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman’s characters play house with two young German women. It’s a break in the action, but it goes to show how desperate these men are to receive some semblance of normalcy within the consistent chaos that they’re exposed to day after day. By making the war seem legitimately scary, Fury earns its place alongside all the great WWII movies.
  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to deny that Wes Anderson has developed a style that’s uniquely his own. With The Grand Budapest Hotel, he’s crafted his most beautiful looking film. Thanks to incredible set direction and production design, practically every frame of the film is a visual wonder. You could watch it with the sound off and still be entertained, but then you would be missing out on the engaging story and sharp dialogue that add another layer of beauty to the film. Aided by a great cast, Anderson has crafted a hugely entertaining tale that works as a remembrance for passed down stories and an affinity for days gone by. Viewers willing to check into this film are sure to enjoy their stay.
  1. Enemy – A surreal and provocative mindbender that’s as frightening as any horror film released this year, Enemy is an intricately plotted thriller that demands multiple viewings. From the opening shot to the final frame, it’s a film that will hold its viewers in a near constant state of suspense. Director Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to last year’s Prisoners proves that he’s a master at holding viewers on the edge. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a great two-sided performance and the grim cinematography from Nicolas Bolduc effectively provides the feeling that something just isn’t quite right in this world. Speaking of things not being quite right, the ending is a real shocker that ranks up there with the best of this year. Viewers accustomed to having every plot detail spoon fed to them should look elsewhere; this is a film that will lead to questions, interpretations and conversations. Sometimes, that’s the best kind of cinema.
  1. Boyhood – Shot intermittently from May 2002 to October 2013, Boyhood chronicles the life of a young boy named Mason from ages 6 to 18. It’s an incredible production story, but the film transcends this potential gimmick with fully realized characters, heartfelt moments and interesting themes that most coming of age films don’t even attempt to tackle. Never before has a film so expertly captured what it’s like to live in the 21st century. Everything from the clothes, to the hairstyles, to the vernacular feels authentic with the time period because each scene was filmed in its respective year. Decades from now, people will look back on this film as an authentic snapshot of life in the early 21st century. The amount of things that could have gone wrong with director Richard Linklater’s ambitious project are endless, but somehow everything came together to create a true piece of art that is as beautiful and moving as any motion picture can be. Linklater’s naturalistic direction keeps things poetically simple and eleven years of footage leads to an ending that is breathtaking in how it says so much by saying so little. This is surely one of the most realistic films ever made, but it’s also one of the most magical. I’ve never seen anything quite like Boyhood.
  1. Gone Girl – Adapated from Gillian Flynn’s entertaining page-turner of the same name, Gone Girl is a harrowing mystery that’s engrossing from start to finish. Fans of the source material will be pleased at the faithfulness of this adaptation, while new viewers will be absolutely floored by some of the twists and turns that this movie takes. Not only is it a great thriller, but it’s also a great satire of modern relationships and marriages. The extreme, heightened scenario that these characters are placed in may be rare, but the actions that they take while in this strange scenario are simply exaggerations of what many people do while in a marriage. Couples lie to each other, pretend to be someone else and struggle for power. These characters are written as hyperbolic exaggerations for a reason. Director David Fincher once again proves that he’s a master behind the camera, crafting a film that never lets up throughout its extended runtime. Not only does it rank right up there with his best work, but it’s also one of the most wholly satisfying thrillers to come out in years.
  1. Nightcrawler – A brilliant satire of modern news and the cutthroat business world, Nightcrawler is a startlingly accomplished directorial debut from Dan Gilroy. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers the best performance of 2013 and crafts a totally unique and interesting character in the process. Gyllenhaal’s Louis Bloom is a total sociopath, willing to put anybody into danger as long as it will get him further ahead. He wants to achieve success and he absolutely does not care how he gets there. Gyllenhaal reportedly lost 20 pounds for the role and Bloom’s gaunt physique and long hair only add to his uncomfortable persona. The script by Gilroy also offers plenty of dark humor that may catch some viewers off guard. Gyllenhaal’s character is so loathsome that you almost have to laugh at all of the horrible acts he’s willing to commit. All of these acts culminate in a fantastically directed final action sequence, one that continues to shock even after you think it could go no further. It’s a film that’s full of surprises and feels like a breath of fresh air in the occasionally mundane cinematic landscape.
  1. Foxcatcher – If you’re looking for a feel-good film to boost your spirits and morale, then I must warn you to stay far, far away from Foxcatcher. Here is a sports film with all of the happiness sucked out of it, which is then replaced by an ever mounting sense of dread and scenarios so disturbing that they’re borderline horror movie territory. But what makes this film scarier than most is that it’s completely true. In his best film to date, director Bennett Miller has crafted a true-life tale that’s as haunting as a quiet nightmare. Miller is aided by a fascinating script and three transformative performances from Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo. Aided by some extensive makeup work, Carell’s performance as the wealthy John du Pont is a true standout and the character that he embodies lingers long after the film has ended. It’s a thematically rich film about tragedy, loneliness, the obsession to achieve greatness, and the idea that the wealthiest people in America can use their money to buy whatever kind of life they desire. In just his fourth feature film, Bennett Miller has created a true work of art that is nothing short of astounding.
  1. Whiplash – Sometimes the best thing about movies is their ability to surprise you. Before I saw Whiplash, I would have never imagined that it would end up being my favorite film of 2014. Now, over two months since I originally saw it, my love for the film has only continued to grow. This tale of a maniacal jazz conductor and the young student that he chooses to inflict his wrath upon is intense and undeniably powerful. This isn’t a heartfelt story of a teacher encouraging a student to do his best; it’s a story of a harmful relationship between an abuser and an abusee. Director Damien Chazelle’s directing is tight and spot-on, while his script smartly explores the idea of wanting to achieve something regardless of the cost. Miles Teller delivers an extremely physical performance as we watch him bang on the drum set until his hands are bloody, while J.K. Simmons creates one of the most vicious, ruthless, disturbing and downright evil characters to appear in a movie in quite some time. All of this builds to a final sequence that is equal parts shocking and exhilarating. Just as the film appears to veer towards a fairly obvious ending, the rug is pulled out from underneath us with a truly surprising reveal. Chazelle manages to find an ending that is neither completely uplifting nor completely upsetting and entirely avoids the schmaltz that is typically associated with similar films. It’s more frightening that any horror film I’ve seen in years and one of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences that I’ve ever had. With taut direction, amazing performances and an infectiously toe-tapping jazz soundtrack, this is sure to blow away your expectations, just like it did mine. Whiplash is, without a doubt, the best film of the year.

Boyhood – Movie Review

At a time when directors are transporting us to unseen fantasy realms and sci-fi galaxies, Richard Linklater is doing the exact opposite; his films are about as real as can be, populated with characters and events that feel identifiable and painfully honest. With Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, he created one of the greatest movie love stories. An eighteen year trilogy, each film had us checking in with the characters of Jesse and Celine, nine years after their previous outing. It was ambitious filmmaking coupled with great performances and naturalistic direction. Even more ambitious is his newest film, Boyhood. Shot intermittently from May 2002 to October 2013, the film chronicles the life of a young boy named Mason. It’s a project that’s never been tackled before and it’s nothing short of incredible to watch Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, grow up onscreen before us. Not only does Boyhood have one of the best production stories of recent years, but it’s nothing short of an incredible film and it will surely rank as one of the very best that 2014 has to offer.

Mason begins the film as a six year old boy, living with his sister (Lorelei Linklater) and their mother (Patricia Arquette). Their parents are no longer together and his father (Ethan Hawke) is trying to find work in Alaska. Just like most children his age, Mason is an innocent, spending the majority of his time daydreaming or playing with toys and video games. As he grows older, we watch his interests change. He eventually grows into a young man who takes a heavy interest in art and photography. Based on the events that he experiences throughout his childhood, we can absolutely see how he turns out this way. The events that we experience shape us into the person that we are and Mason’s arc clearly showcases this.

Linklater avoids showing us the typical moments that tend to make up a coming of age film and opts to show life through the most realistic of eyes. We don’t see Mason’s first kiss, or his prom; instead, we see him on the most ordinary of days. Instead of showing us Mason’s graduation, the film skips over that event and shows Mason on his way home from the graduation and the time that he spends with his family afterwards. Instead of showing us the moment that Mason breaks up with his serious girlfriend, we see the aftermath of the breakup and how Mason is trying to cope with his sadness. By showing life on the more ordinary days, Linklater chooses realism over plot and excitement. We may not see a lot of things happen to Mason, but sometimes it’s the ordinary days that end up having the greatest impact on us. The only time that Linklater breaks this rule is when we see Mason and his mother dealing with an abusive stepfather. It’s the only overly dramatic moment in the entire film, but it works because Linklater doesn’t rely on moments like these as a crutch. This subplot isn’t put into the film to create unnecessary drama, but to show the difficulty that this family had to go through together.

While Mason’s arc is the most prominent in the film, the arcs of his mother and father are equally impressive. His mother starts the film as a single parent, struggling to raise two kids and live a life of her own. She goes back to school, hoping that an education will lead to more income and a better life for her children. But things don’t always work out this way; we watch her go through two husbands, one of them abusive, both of them alcoholics. By the end of the film, she’s living alone in a tiny apartment, wondering what she has left. Her final scene is truly heartbreaking and Arquette is fantastic in the role. Mason’s father begins the film as a dad who isn’t able to spend the time with his kids that he should. It’s clear that he loves them, but it initially looks like he’s going to be a father who flakes out on his children by the end of the film. But, surprisingly, he turns into a great father, spending as much time with Mason and Samantha as he possibly can. It’s great to watch him transform from a man who may have started a family too early, into a man who can proudly call himself a great dad. Ethan Hawke is a frequent collaborator with Linklater and he’s warmhearted, kind and inspiring as Mason’s dad.

Never before has a film so expertly captured what it’s like to live in the 21st century. Everything from the clothes, to the hairstyles, to the vernacular feels authentic with the time period because each scene was filmed in its respective year between 2002 and 2013. It’s incredible to watch how the technology changes from the beginning to the end of the film and the toys and gadgets that Mason and his friends play with will surely create nostalgia for anyone who has lived through this time period. The music also begins to grow more modern as the film progresses, showing us what was popular to listen to throughout each year. Timestamps are never given to explicitly explain what year each scene takes place; viewers will have to figure out when they are based on clues, such as the mention of The Dark Knight or the Obama/McCain election. Decades from now, people will look back on this film as an authentic snapshot of life in the early 21st century.

As Mason begins his first year of college at the end of the film, it would be easy to say that he’s beginning a new chapter of his life, but this would be missing one of the major points of the film. Life isn’t composed of chapters; it’s a series of never ending moments and it’s up to us to make the most of them. The amount of things that could have gone wrong with Linklater’s ambitious project are endless, but somehow everything came together to create a true piece of art that is as beautiful and moving as any motion picture can be. Linklater’s naturalistic direction keeps things poetically simple and eleven years of footage leads to an ending that is breathtaking in how it says so much by saying so little. This is surely one of the most realistic films ever made, but it’s also one of the most magical. I’ve never seen anything quite like Boyhood.

Boyhood receives 4/4

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The Academy Awards are this Sunday night and they are bound to bring their share of joys and disappointments. To combat the disappointment that I feel when my favorites don’t win, I decided to hand out my own awards to the films that I believe are most worthy. Here you will find my favorites of 2013 in categories ranging from Best Actor to Best Original Song. Agree with my choices? What categories would you do differently? Let me know in the comments below!

If you are interested in viewing my top ten films of 2013, click here

 

Best Director

Ethan Coen & Joel Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis

Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Abdellatif Kechiche – Blue is the Warmest Color

Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave

Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

 

Best Actor

Bruce Dern – Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio- The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave

Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips

Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station

 

Best Actress (TIE)

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Adèle Exarchopoulos – Blue is the Warmest Color

Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha

Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks

 

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave

James Franco – Spring Breakers

Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

 

Best Supporting Actress

Scarlett Johansson – Her

Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Léa Seydoux – Blue is the Warmest Color

Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station

 

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle – David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer

Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen

Her – Spike Jonze

Inside Llewyn Davis – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Nebraska – Bob Nelson

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years a Slave – John Ridley

Before Midnight – Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy

Blue is the Warmest Color – Abdellatif Kechiche

Captain Phillips – Billy Ray

The Wolf of Wall Street – Terence Winter

 

Best Cinematography

Gravity

12 Years a Slave

Prisoners

Spring Breakers

Inside Llewyn Davis

 

Best Art Direction

12 Years a Slave

Gravity

The Great Gatsby

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Her

 

Best Visual Effects

Star Trek Into Darkness

Elysium

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Pacific Rim

Gravity

 

Best Sound

Gravity

All is Lost

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Captain Phillips

12 Years a Slave

 

Best Original Score

Gravity

12 Years a Slave

Frozen

Saving Mr. Banks

Her

 

Best Original Song

Atlas – Hunger Games

I see Fire – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Let it Go – Frozen

Ordinary Love – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Please Mr. Kennedy – Inside Llewyn Davis

 

Best Animated Film

Despicable Me 2

Frozen

Monsters University

 

Best Editing

12 Years a Slave

Captain Phillips

Gravity

Inside Llewyn Davis

Prisoners